Why Your Juvenile Bearded Dragons Are Not Eating?


Any loving pet parent would be worried when their juvenile bearded dragon stops eating. Is this normal behavior? Or is the beardie sick? We’ve got you covered. 

Your bearded dragons are not eating because they are ill or stressed. If they are sick, they could be suffering from Metabolic Bone Disease. The stress-causing factors may be poor diet and an uncomfortable environment.

Before you can figure out what to do, you need to know why your beardie friend isn’t eating. This article will provide detailed information on your pet’s condition’s causes, diagnosis, and management.

Possible Causes of Your Juvenile Bearded Dragon Not Eating

The possible causes may be internal to the dragon, such as shedding, constipation, or brumation. Other causes may be external such as poor UVB lighting, imbalanced temperatures, or poor diet. Once you have identified the reason, that will guide you to take the appropriate action.

The diagnosis results will tell you if the dragon is ill, at which they will require medical attention.

You can quickly resolve some of the causes and have your bearded dragon back to normal. For other reasons such as brumation, you may have little you can do other than watch until your pet recovers. Below is a breakdown of possible causes and how they affect your pet.

Shedding of their skin

Juvenile dragons have the highest growth rate during the first year. The skin sheds more often to develop a new one at this stage. The process causes strain on the dragon due to biological changes in the body, affecting its appetite.

Low UVB light exposure

The sunny natural habitat of bearded dragons dictates that you supply enough light with a basking lamp. Bearded dragons, like other animals, extract essential nutrients from the sun’s rays. If you fail to provide enough light, your baby dragon will get weak, negatively affecting its appetite for food.

Reduced defacation and constipation

Pet dragons suffer from regular constipation due to their artificial diet, and reduced frequency in defecating is a sign they could be suffering from constipation. Constipation causes stomach bloating, making your pet feel full or have stomach discomfort hence decreased appetite.

You may help your baby dragon by bathing them or massaging their bellies. You may also consider using laxatives to relieve the bloating. If your home remedies are not helpful, you should reach a vet.

Experiencing great stress

Your juvenile bearded dragon is likely to experience stress at a greater intensity than the adults, and they suffer due to their vulnerability, which makes them mostly feel threatened. When stressed, your baby dragon pet will be twitchy, jumpy, or keep wanting to hide.

Your baby dragon may experience stress due to reasons such as:

  • Noise
  • New handlers
  • Irregular changes in light
  • Additional items in the enclosure
  • Relocation

Stressed juvenile dragons will have their appetite affected negatively.

Hibernation or brumation

Brumation is a form of hibernation when your baby dragon will slow down and change its eating habits. Your pet will exhibit hiding tendencies and start ignoring its food during this period. 

To know whether they are going through brumation, you should observe if they are drinking water. If your bearded dragon is typically drinking water, it could be suffering from a different problem, not brumation.

During brumation, your pet is undergoing significant biological changes in the body that negatively affect their appetite for food due to stress.

Bearded dragon’s age

If you feed your juvenile dragons with more insects and proteins than adults. Your juvenile dragon may have a low appetite if you supply the wrong diet depending on the growth stage. You may feed your two or three months old dragon with 70% insects and 30%vegetables, 3 to 5 times a day. Improper rationing may cause your pet dragon to have eating problems.

Low temperature in their vivarium

Low temperatures will slow down your bearded dragon’s activity. It would be best if you appropriately regulated the temperature of their enclosure, bearing in mind that they are cold-blooded. To keep your baby dragon active, ensure you regulate the basking temperature between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

Your baby dragon should become active and start eating if the problem is low temperature.

Change in diet

Be keen to observe the behavior of your juvenile bearded dragon after you have changed its diet. It is common for all living creatures to resist change, and your baby dragon isn’t excluded.

Your baby dragon may slow down on taking the new diet or may refuse to take it. If that happens, take time to observe how it behaves in the long run. You may consider changing to a different diet if your pet completely fails to adapt to the new one.

Why Lack of Appetite Is Not a Big Problem

Lack of appetite is typical and expected for your growing dragon. There will be an insignificant effect if you are attentive and resolve the problem on time.

Some causes, such as shedding, are natural processes that your bearded dragon must undergo. Others are causes that you can efficiently address by adjusting its environment eliminating panic.

Now that you know the possible causes of decreased appetite in your pet dragon, you should keenly observe certain behaviors to help diagnose the cause. Understanding these behaviors will help you know the specific reason your pet is not eating.

Behaviors to Observe When Your Pet Dragon Is Not Eating

Your bearded dragon’s behavior should communicate a message to you. Your accuracy in interpreting the message will help remedy the situation. 

Behaviors such as head bobbing and arm waving are typical and may not relate to your pet’s refusal to eat. However, your observational skill may explain why the pet is head-bobbing while ignoring the food.

The time you spend bonding with your pet will make it easy for you to interpret its messages. We have detailed the critical behaviors you need to observe below.  

Head bobbing

Males commonly exhibit this behavior during breeding to show their power over females, and it is also a sign of aggression.

When you see your baby dragon head bobbing in their enclosure, they are stamping their dominance in the habitat.

You may see your bearded dragon bobbing its head too much when it’s supposed to be eating, and you should not be alarmed by that. The dragon is just excited and will soon resume eating.

Glass surfing

Glass surfing is a tendency of your juvenile dragon struggling to climb the glass. They usually exhibit this behavior in distress. Glass surfing is your baby dragon telling you it’s uncomfortable in the enclosure.  

This behavior, although not very serious, should catch your curiosity. Your bearded dragon tells you that it is afraid of something by glass surfing. Your pet will not eat if it is afraid.

You should check around to see there are no distractions within the vicinity. Ensure other pets like cats are not within the vicinity of your bearded dragon. You may also want to confirm the temperatures within its enclosure.

Uncontrollable digging

Your juvenile bearded dragon will dig when under distress. They may also dig to look for food or to hibernate. Generally, they will exhibit the digging behavior to show discomfort.

Discomfort may stress your bearded dragon to a point where it’s unable to eat normally. If your dragon is digging as a sign of hibernation, that is normal behavior. If it is not eating, you may want to watch it and do nothing.

Mouth gaping

When you find your juvenile bearded dragon frequently opening its mouth, it tells you that the background is too hot, and gaping is equivalent to sweating in humans.

Check the temperature to ensure it is within the recommended levels. If you regulate the temperatures properly and your bearded dragon continues gaping while refusing to eat, try some further diagnosis.

Eye bulging

Eye bulging happens when your baby bearded dragon is shedding.

If your bearded dragon is not eating and you notice the eye-bulging behavior, it is shedding. During this period, your pet may refuse to eat.

If you confirm the shedding is taking place, you should wait until it finishes shedding. After shedding, your bearded dragon should resume normal eating.

Arm waving

Arm waving signals submission. It is a social behavior that the submissive dragon signals to the dominant one when feeding.

When you notice your pet arm waving and not eating, it communicates acceptance to stay away from food by choice. It is common in juveniles as they give way to their senior counterparts. 

Turning black

Your juvenile bearded dragon may turn its head black as a sign of aggression when it feels threatened. Aggression may temporarily make the pet desert its food, which should not cause worry.

In more severe cases, the blackhead signifies illness. If you make further observations and confirm the illness, you should act fast to start treatment as that is the reason your pet is not eating.

Flared beard

Also called fluffing, your juvenile dragon flares its beard as a defense mechanism. Your pet dragon may scare you if they feel you are infringing their territory.

It may be a temporary problem if your juvenile bearded dragon is not eating but flaring its head. You should check around to ensure you eliminate any threats, such as cats.

Once you eliminate the threats, your bearded dragon should get out of the defensive mode and resume eating.

Tail twitching

Tail twitching is a food-hunting behavior your juvenile dragon will exhibit during feeding time, and your baby dragon may also twitch the tail if stressed. More seriously, the tail twitching behavior may signify metabolic bone disease.

You should be alarmed if you notice your juvenile bearded dragon not eating and twitching its tail, which could be a sign of fatal metabolic bone disease. If you notice this behavior, contact a vet.

However, it’s normal if your juvenile bearded dragon is tail-twitching while eating, and it should not worry you.

Stamping and hissing

Your juvenile bearded dragon will exhibit this behavior when threatened. You may want to stop your pet from hissing by making them feel safe and calm.

If you notice your juvenile dragon stamping and hissing and refusing to eat, take time to watch it. You could be the reason it is stamping. If you eliminate the threat it senses, your pet should resume eating normally.

FAQ’s about Bearded Dragons

Conclusion on Why Your Juvenile Bearded Dragons Are Not Eating?

Studying the behavior of your juvenile bearded dragon will help you know why it is not eating. Particular behaviors signify a challenge your bearded dragon is going through.

Your juvenile dragon’s refusal to eat may be temporary or a result of a more serious underlying problem such as illness. If your home remedial diagnosis fails to work and your juvenile is still not eating, you should contact your vet.

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